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Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> Calum Murray
5 of 023 ----- L SPL H

Hearts primed for physical battle with rivals, says Jonsson

EGGERT Jonsson is sure to be involved in tomorrow's Edinburgh derby – the question is in which role? With both Lee Wallace and Marius Zaliukas suspended after their sendings-off against Aberdeen, there are two holes in the Hearts back four which the young Icelander could fill.
But whether he plays at left-back, centre-back or in his more usual midfield role, the versatile 20-year-old is prepared for the customary tough confrontation with Hibernian. Echoing the words earlier this week of his manager, Csaba Laszlo, Jonsson i nsisted that Hearts do not have a disciplinary problem, and said they would not shirk from a physical battle against their city rivals at Tynecastle.

"The players were disappointed after Saturday's game and there was a lot of emotional things going on, but that's just football," he said of the 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie. "Sometimes it happens. You see it everywhere in football and all over the world.

"I don't think there is a disciplinary problem at the club. We got a red card on Saturday with Zaliukas where video evidence shows it shouldn't have been.

"If anything the other player (Lee Miller] head-butts him and you see that on the television. Lee Wallace was sent off after the game and he was angry and frustrated and there were a lot of emotions going on there.

"That's what happens. But I don't think it is a lack of discipline."

While Wallace received a post-match red card as a result of a lack of self-control, Jonsson suggested his own dismissal in September against Dundee United showed that not every sending-off was brought about by indiscipline. "I made a tackle. That wasn't a lack of discipline.

"Sometimes you make a tackle and you are late. So I don't think there is a problem.

"You need to know where to draw the line and know how far you can go. You have to find the right balance and if you can do that you are in a good situation.

"That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to know how far we can go. Some referees allow more than others.

"But we want the players to show fight. We want to win games and I think we have shown this season that we want it."

The heated atmosphere of the derby makes it one of the most difficult fixtures in which to maintain self-discipline, and the pace at which it is played can produce those slightly mistimed tackles which, as Jonsson highlighted, can lead to referees showing cards. But he insisted Hearts will certainly not be cowed by the recent publicity about their disciplinary record into playing meekly, or holding back at all.

Indeed, although he might ideally like Hearts to win the match by outplaying Hibs, Jonsson knows that the nature of the fixture often means that victory goes to the physically stronger side. "You can win derby games by playing the better football, but the best thing you can do is win both the physical and the football battles," he said.

"You want to play good football, but sometimes that doesn't happen. Sometimes it is more physical. And if it does turn that way then we need to make sure we win the fight.

"If there are physical battles we need to win them. And if we can do that and then let our good football kick in after that, then hopefully we can go on and win the game. Obviously with it being a derby sometimes it tends to be more physical. We need to make sure we are up for it and do everything we can to win the game.

"You need to be calm and patient. We have big games coming up over the next few weeks and we need to find that right balance.

"The derby is a massive game. We are playing at home in front of our own fans (and] it is just after New Year. Hopefully on the day there will be a great atmosphere here. We want to win the game and with it being a derby there is maybe extra motivation there. Hopefully in the end we can get away with the whole three points."

Whether that happens could depend on how Laszlo deals with the two absences in defence. There is no obvious alternative to Jonsson to fill in for Wallace at left-back, and that therefore looks like what the manager will do. But that in turn would leave no obvious alternative to Christos Karipidis at centre-back, and playing the Greek alongside Christophe Berra would leave a vacancy in the holding midfield position.

Taken from the Scotsman

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